Once upon a time there was a family, a perfect family. They all got along and there were never any arguments or scuffles. Across the street from these wonderful people lived a young man. Now this was not your typical young man; he didn't hit the town on the weekends nor did he have any lady friends to share his life with. No, the only thing this young man had were his books. Books of all kinds, colors, shapes, and sizes. Among these books there those full of nightmares and sadly ever afters, and these books the young man took to more than the others.
One sunshiny day a child of the perfect family was playing outside. With dreams of underwater voyages and expeditions to the center of the earth playing in his head, he wandered around the neighborhood making noises that young boys at play tend to make. It just so happened that this day the young man sat on his porch reading his tales of sadness and grief.
Oblivious to his surroundings (as young children so often are), the boy found his way to the doorstep of the young man's house. The rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance, and disturbed by the noise the young man looked up from his book and saw the lad. Smiling to himself and remembering the days when he too was an innocent child, he waved a hello. The boy, wide-eyed and kindhearted, waved back. "Aren't you the man with the boogs?" he said, for he had struggled to pronounce his "Ks" for some time. Grinning even wider upon hearing the peculiar speech of the child, the young man replied. "Why, indeed I am! I've got all kinds of books containing all kinds of stories: Some big, some small! Some short, some tall! Some true, some false!"
The boy thought the man had a funny way of speaking. Almost like the leader of a circus ring or those strange businessmen at the county fair. Weird.
"Would you like to take a look at my books?" asked the man, "There are so many stories waiting to be heard". Not thinking anything of it, the adventurous little boy furiously nodded his head yes. As he walked into the house he was astonished by the sheer number of the man's books. Outside it had begun to storm so the young man called the boy's parents so as not to cause them to worry. The explorer in the boy ushered him from shelf to shelf staring at book after book. He was so fascinated by all of them that he couldn't decide what to read, but after some time he stumbled upon a shelf that was different from the others. The books on this shelf appeared to have a life to them, as if the authors had poured their very souls into their work.
Seeing the interest in the his eyes, the young man decided to let him have a book from the shelf. The title of the book was lost to history and its previous owner, but that didn't stop the lad's look of elation at receiving his first storybook. Shortly thereafter the storm let up and (being the responsible citizen that he was) the young man sent the boy on his way. A smile on his face and book under arm, the boy (being the mischievous child that he truly was) went to his secret hiding place and began to read the storybook. It told of majestic knights and beautiful princesses, hideous witches and vile dragons, mystical lands and haunted mansions, magical dreams and devilish nightmares. The boy, a talented reader due to his mother's efforts (against the wishes of his father, unbeknownst to him), read and read. He read until he could no longer keep track of time or reality itself. When he finally finished reading he felt different, almost as if he were no longer the same person. As he made his way home he could swear he saw things following him, leering at him from just beyond the edge of his vision.
They whispered of horrible things, things too horrible to be spoken of here. At first wary, the boy soon threw caution to the wind and broke into a full sprint towards his home. Apparently realizing that the child had noticed their presence, the things gave chase in silence, thus making the experience that much more terrifying. In an attempt to escape the fiends the boy cast his thoughts to lovelier things. The stories he had read resurfaced like a drowning diver; with them came a sense of peace and security. The fiends, for no other name is fitting, vanished and the world became a bit less scary. He made his way home to his perfect family in once piece, book under arm.
After some time he saw the fiends again . . . and again and again and again. He began to notice that his family wasn't so perfect after all. His mom left, dad became an alcoholic, and his sister was never home. He grew older and got his own place, his own money, and, most importantly, his own books.
Disturbed from his reading, the [now] young man looked up and saw a young girl. "Aren't you the man with the books?" she asked. "Why, indeed I am!" he said, smiling at her
And they lived Sadly Ever After . . . .
"Now go to sleep!" demanded the older brother, and with that he fell asleep himself. The smaller boy tapped his shoulder in hopes of hearing another story, but to no avail. Sighing in exasperation, the small boy rolled over and as he was about to close his eyes he could swear he saw something just beyond the edge of his vision. The
"Lad, it's only your imagination." replied the [now] old man.
"That's what scares me . . . ."
Elsewhere in the house, the older brother (a young man, really) smiled.